‘Lenin, anarchism and the October Revolution’

Bates, D. (2017) ‘Lenin, anarchism and the October Revolution’. In: Manchester Workshops in Political Theory, September 2017, Manchester University. (Unpublished)

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The relationship between Marxism and anarchism has been an acrimonious one. Marx’s conflicts with Proudhon and with Bakunin were perhaps as much psychological as political and philosophical. The initial fissure between Marxism and anarchism came about in the context of the second half of the nineteenth century. Bakunin’s conflict with Marx in the First International has been written about extensively (See Thomas, 1980).

The paper will explore how the initial antagonism between Marx and the anarchists comes to be operationalised by Lenin before, during, and after 1917. In 1901, Lenin wrote:
‘What has anarchism, at one time dominant in the Romance countries, contributed in recent European history? – No doctrine, revolutionary teaching, or theory. – Fragmentation of the working-class movement. – Complete fiasco in the experiments of the revolutionary movement (Proudhonism, 1871; Bakuninism, 1873) - Subordination of the working class to bourgeois politics in the guise of negation of politics.’ (Lenin, 1901)

Lenin held to this view and put his opposition to anarchism into practice as he moved to consolidate Bolshevik hegemony in Russia. The construction of the strange historical fiction of Marxism-Leninism allows for a discursive and indeed material silencing (always partial) of anarchism. This is a silencing which comes to reach beyond Russia, to all those revolutionary movements influenced by Marxism-Leninism.

The paper will then go on to revisit aspects of Lenin (and Leninism) in the context of contemporary social movements, along with providing some thoughts regarding the relationship between Marxism and anarchism today.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D0031 Political and diplomatic history
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology
Depositing User: Dr David Bates
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2018 14:11
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2018 14:11
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/16902

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00